The Trick or Treaters – Fear the Knock.
It wasn’t too long ago that Reelbloody Reviews and Slasher Marketing came across this film in our continuing search, both high and low, for the next big thing in horror. We think we’ve found it, so we reached out, hands waving feverishly. With a little luck and some persistence, we were able to get word up north to Toronto and meet with a really great up-and-comer. It’s with much pride and anticipation that we’re bringing you an exclusive interview with the mastermind behind what we think is a fresh, personal touch on the found-footage subgenre. We sat down with The Trick or Treaters writer, director, and cast member - Mike Chester.
Don’t let this guy’s age fool you. Even at 19, his latest effort has been lurking in the shadows, gaining momentum for at least 5 years. Mike Chester is knocking loudly, and we’re answering the door. Let’s get reelbloody…
RB: Mike, first of all: thank you for sitting down with us for a few minutes. We are stoked to get this opportunity. Let’s dive in. From what we’ve read, this is a script you wrote back in high school. Can you give us some insight into how the idea for the film came to you?
MC: Yes I actually first came up with the whole idea from a dream I had back in grade 9 about seeing a film title The Trick or Treaters; the visuals were faint, but it was pretty extreme and in your face. I remember waking up from it and just saying “Well fuck... this could potentially be a really cool concept if I build from it.” So I grew the concept into a story after a lot of storyboards and loose concept drawings, then eventually wrote the script in early 2011 and started loose filming not too long after.
RB: Can you give us just a couple of titles that stick out in your mind as being influential in your decision to take the plunge into horror films?
MC: I would still have to say The Blair Witch Project because it was innovative and created a new type of fear in film that really threw me into the experience, which really intrigued me. But Scooby Doo is probably the main cause that got me into horror growing up, but the repetitive, predictable endings of each episode got old after a bit, leading me to actual horror films which really refreshed me with their twists and turns.
RB: We recently checked out the extended director’s cut of The Aberrant Set, a short film you did earlier this year. Can we expect the same psychological terror in The Trick or Treaters, or will it be a much more tangible, in-your-face blood fest?
MC: The Aberrant Set was my first attempt at a short film and it was all made up on the spot, so I never really knew what I created till after it was edited. It even left me with some questions after watching it which was cool that something I created kind of created itself and unraveled in front of me, but The Trick or Treaters will not really have a psychological aspect to it. It definitely is a more simplified blood fest that's easier to follow. The film is more designed to be a fun, in your face rollercoaster that gives you very few moments to catch your breath due to the constant situations and scares the film is packed with.
RB: Your total cast and crew count is under 10, some with a nice list of accolades on their resume. How did you come to enlist their help with your film, i.e. long time friendships, people who just saw what you saw and had that same enthusiasm for your film?
MC: Yeah the crew is super small. The only part of it that really grows is the cast. For filming the movie, the actors were my only crew and help so it was very essential to do, especially without other people trying to control the process. I launched a funding campaign which attracted lots of great people in the film world who were really supportive, so I ended up getting David Perry as an executive producer and Jason Harlow and an associate producer, who have been very helpful with tips about distribution and all that fun stuff. It's great having people with actual experience in film to have a producer name in your project unlike so many others who know nothing, yet buy a producer credit and go around promoting the film as theirs.
RB: Was it always a no-brainer that you were going to go found-footage on this film, or were there at least moments of uncertainty?
MC: Well what I didn't mention earlier was that the dream which inspired the film actually had a found footage aspect to it, like a documented following of The Trick or Treaters terrorizing people in their very own homes, so that led to the whole two perspective concept; being able to experience the victims being terrorized, then the terrorizers doing the terrorizing in their very own perspective. What better way to do that than through real footage style? I never thought of shooting it as found footage thinking it would easier or even better for that matter, I just knew it was the perfect way for the concept to be experienced, and I'm very happy I went through with it, especially with the huge fan following found footage films have now. That and the fact that I'm a total found footage geek. I just love the never ending potential this style of filmmaking is capable of creating…with the help of a little crazy creativity.
RB: Growing up and living in Canada, do you think there are obvious differences in Canadian horror cinema and American? (Admittedly, this is my guilty pleasure question lol)
MC: That question? Really? Haha. I used to think there was but as time went you start to realize that it's the people and their capabilities that make a film what it is. I do think there are definite differences between some American and Canadian horror flicks, but you really can't tell anymore; not me at least, but there are many people who strictly separate Canadian and American horror cinema apart, creating war on both parts on which side is better, yet still thinking one of their favorite horror classics is American but it’s actually Canadian, and the same thing the other way around. I grew up thinking Canadian cinema was consistently crappy but as I got older I realized that wasn't very true as some of my favorite horror flicks were shot in the very city I live in, such as Black Christmas and Ginger Snaps!
RB: Ah, I LOVE the Ginger Snaps trilogy! I had to ask.
RB: You teased us by mentioning a couple of potential upcoming projects. Anything you can or want to share with us about what we may expect from you in the future?
MC: I have a lot of projects waiting for me to bring them to life but I'm taking the time to focus and get my first film out there. While doing that, I actually started filming a second feature titled Where's Wendy. It's about party animal high school graduates who end up getting caught in a crazy, dark world after searching for their friend who went to a beach party and never came back. The film is loosely based on real events and will also be shot as real footage to keep the dark realism I want the film to have. I was also given the opportunity to shoot a segment for an upcoming found footage anthology film titled Play. It will have works from fresh new independent filmmakers from around the world including myself and I can't wait to get my segment rolling, It's truly a great project to be a part of. Lots of really cool people are involved and also very tight knit now from the found footage community I recently became a part of.
RB: This film epitomizes the concept of a homegrown, built-from-the-ground-up horror flick. Truthfully, it’s exciting on a few levels. How much apprehension did you have deciding to bring this beast to life? I’d imagine there was some element of fear. How’d you conquer that fear of stepping into a genre with such an enthusiastic and unforgiving fan following?
MC: Thank you! That's a great compliment. Well I always give myself a hard time with my art on whether it's worth going through with or not, but when I'm really having fun with my art, the process becomes smoother and I become very carefree and confident with it. The genre does have a huge following by people who can love and judge you just as hard, but I really felt this project was meant to be created whether it brought negative or positive reception, but clearly it has brought more positive than negative and I am seriously fucking stoked about that! It's a truly great feeling to have such love and support for something you did in fact create from the ground up. I think I'll always have some sort of fear come with my creative process but I try to put all that fear and emotion in the work itself, and I think that's how it to seems like its creating itself, because I'm leaving all my fears and worries from the work process and just having fun instead while the fear of creating it in the first place is mixed into the work itself, and I think people can really feel the emotions put into a work that they experience, whether it's an image or a motion picture. Art feeds on emotions, and I don't think it could ever be created without emotion. It's what draws us to create in the first place.
RB: There are a lot of pretentious assholes out there constantly hating on the found footage subgenre claiming that it’s oversaturated and unoriginal. The real gem here is that while they continue trying to disprove the effectiveness of the style, they are constantly being proven wrong time and time again. We think The Trick or Treaters is going to help tremendously in the battle of shutting them the fuck up, and for that...we thank you.
MC: Haha. Pretentious assholes is the perfect way to describe them. They annoy the hell out of me but I also find everything they have to say absolutely, hilariously pathetic and one dimensional. It's quite entertaining to hear idiots talk down something they most likely aren't capable of doing themselves. It only boosts my confidence even more haha. I'm not sure about my film being a game changer or anything but it's definitely gonna change how people see the genre and what it's capable of, even if only for it being created by a teenager. I think people will be able to point out that this is a found footage film made by a real fan of the type of filmmaking who tried to freshen up the experience a little bit. Either way, it should be an entertaining flick that will hopefully have itss viewers on edge, laughing nervously and tempted to look away at certain scenes. It's definitely an in your face horror experience that forces you to feel as if you are a part of the film itself.
RB: Mike, on behalf of Reelbloody Reviews and Slasher Marketing, we can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. You better believe that we’ll have our eyes glued to this project and when the time comes, we’ll have our fingers unnecessarily lubed with buttered popcorn and engaged in mid-movie boob touching.
MC: My absolute pleasure, hahaha! Thanks so much! I can't wait for you all to experience my crazy little creation, and hopefully more to come!
Fans can look forward to a 2015 release of Mike Chester’s The Trick or Treaters. For now, check out the trailer below!
Go “Like” the FB page here and follow Mike on Twitter @Mike7Chesterr and The Trick or Treaters @TrickTreatFilm.